Durham, N.C. — Police on Monday warned women not to be alone on a popular walking and biking trail in Durham after four incidents of indecent exposure occurred within eight days on the trail.
The reported flashing incidents occurred on Oct. 23 and again Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the American Tobacco Trail in southern Durham, police said. The description of the culprit is fairly similar in all four cases – a white man in his 30s or 40s and about 6 feet tall.
"We don't know for sure (if it's the same man), but the descriptions really are close," said Lt. Patrice Vickers of the Durham Police Department.
Investigators say he gets a woman's attention, exposes himself and runs away. In two cases, the women reported that the man was nude, wearing only a red bandanna once and a small hat another time. In the other two cases, he was wearing short black running shorts and a T-shirt.
The incidents happened between Woodcroft Parkway and Crooked Creek Parkway, between Fayetteville and Otis streets, near Scott King Road and near Legacy Lane and Fayetteville Road. Three incidents happened in the morning, while Saturday's occurred in the middle of the afternoon.
Vickers described the flasher or flashers as brazen.
"We know that he is taking chances," she said. "This is in broad daylight. He is taking extreme chances of being caught by someone other than the victim."
Although some of the women weren't alone when they were flashed, police urged women using the American Tobacco Trail to find a partner to walk, jog or ride bicycles.
"You should never go by yourself. Always have someone with you," Vickers said. "Dogs are a great deterrent, however, you can't really judge what a dog will do."
Rebecca Savitski said she goes on the trail a couple of times a week and often sees other women on the trail alone. She said she won't be visiting the trail by herself again soon.
"It's in the middle of the day, so you feel safe, but I guess it's not the smartest thing to be on the trail by yourself," Savitski said.
Durham police officers have been patrolling the trail since the first incident was reported, and they asked people to call 911 to report any suspicious activity on or near the American Tobacco Trail.
Anyone with information about any of the four exposure incidents is asked to call Durham police at 919-560-4582, extension 29370.